He lashed out at the wall with his foot, a sudden, savage motion. In response, there was only a dull thud from the box he was trapped in. He did the same with his other foot, but the only change was a soreness in his toes. He leaned back on his coccyx and pounded the featureless square in from of him with both heels, grunts escaping his throat. Insensate with rage, he threw more futile kicks at the obdurate wall.


At wit's end, he slammed both feet against the wall and pushed. The force of it crushed his back into the cold metal of the cramped space and raised him from the floor. He pressed his arms to either side, sweat standing out as his entire body strained with the effort. He collapsed moments later, a cry like a hiccup coming from his heaving chest. There was no difference in the box he could see; none at all.

Everything hurt, but he swung his fist against the side of the box anyway. What did it matter? He tucked his knees against his forehead, pulled his aching body tight against itself, and began to weep.

In class, the boy raised his hand.


"May I be excused?"

"That's not allowed," the teacher responded.

"Yeah, I know," the boy said, head drooping.

If his leg twitched then, no one noticed it.